20th century German History: Bismarck to Hitler

Ref: C2420824

Germany: the former 'problem child' of modern European history. The country was late to unify but then its size, economic strength, geographical position (and arguably a sense of inferiority) threatened the stability of post-Napoleonic Europe. Germany was at the heart of the two great conflicts which consumed Europe in the first half of the C20th with the problem of 'what to do about Germany' then forming a central characteristic of the Cold War era. We will see how politics developed in Germany and how this fed into international relations. We will also explore economic, social and cultural developments in this country of great contrasts. An issue for consideration will be why the post 1945 democratic, peaceful Germany failed to develop in the earlier period, much to the disadvantage of both Germany and Europe as a whole.

Course aim

A history of Germany from Bismarck to Hitler. The course will provide an understanding of how and why Germany developed between the mid C19th and mid C20th centuries and the implications of this for the history of Europe.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • No skills or experience needed
  • This course is suitable for beginners and improvers

By the end of the course I should be able to:

  • Describe the main events of German history from c1840 to 1945.
  • Understand why Germany was late to unify and how this unity once achieved threatened stability in Europe.
  • Understand the role of Germany in international relations and, particularly, in the origins of the two great wars.
  • Understand how and why the Holocaust occurred in Nazi Germany.

How will I be taught?

  • The WEA tutor will use a range of different teaching and learning methods and encourage you and the group to be actively involved in your learning

What kind of feedback can I expect?

  • A range of informal activities will be used by the tutor to see what you are learning which may include quizzes, question and answer, small projects and discussion
  • You will have opportunities to discuss your progress with your tutor
  • You will be encouraged to share your work with the group and discuss your learning
  • There will be ten input sessions including opportunities for discussion and questions. Week 11 will be run as a seminar with small, facilitated groups discussing key issues from the period, followed by feedback in plenary session.

What else do I need to know?

  • Nothing else is needed

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

  • No pre reading or pre course work is required

What can I do next?

Download full course information sheet

20th century German History: Bismarck to Hitler

Is this course right for me? Request more information

This course is not available for online enrolment.


This course is funded by the Greater London Combined Authority but is also open to residents of other areas.

As a registered charity, and to meet our funders’ requirements, we need to check a few things with you before you book. Please could we ask that you check the list below to ensure you meet our basic criteria:

  • You are paying the standard fee (with a credit or debit card) or you are on any of the qualifying benefits
  • You have a valid email address so that you can receive confirmation of your booking
  • You have been resident in the UK, EU or EEA for the last 3 years
  • You are aged 19 years or older on 1st September 2019
  • You have read and accept our standard terms and conditions

Not sure or have further questions? Contact courseenquiries@wea.org.uk

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